Apr 5, 2016

How to Embrace Your Mistakes and Achieve Digital Career Success

by Digital Marketing Institute

We all have to start somewhere

If you’ve yet to discover the internet archive of websites, you’re in for a real treat -- it shows you what sites like Google, Facebook and YouTube looked like when they first launched. To highlight the most dramatic changes, The Telegraph curated screenshots for 20 of the most popular websites still around today.

Looking at the original site design for Apple, the most valuable brand in 2015, is accompanied by a sense of nostalgic amusement. It’s the same feeling you get if you flick through old school pictures; appropriate for the time, but now excruciatingly dated.

The fact is, we’re not the only things to change and grow. The digital landscape moves too. There used to be a time when pandas sat around eating bamboo; now they slay websites with bad SEO! We used to only be able to watch video after the event, now Periscope streams live footage twenty-four hours a day on demand. Footage can be anything, from cute kittens or a family’s bedtime story, to coverage of controversial political issues.

Top Tip: Whatever it is that keeps you awake tonight won’t be so pressing in five years’ time. If it’s relevant at all! Your career, along with the digital industry, will have moved on and it’s important you learn to go with it.

How to accept your mistakes and move past them

A typo will dent the confidence of a writer. A low open rate jabs an email marketer in the gut. Poor conversion rates disappoint e-commerce professionals. Yet it happens, and it happens to us all.

Whether you’re just starting out in digital marketing, plan to change career, or you’re moving up a rung on the ladder, here are some sure-fire ways to keep things in perspective:

1. Keep up to date with the industry

Being able to put your own work into context is an important step to growing your confidence. This leaves you less shaken if you slip up. For general insight, here are some key players who can help to inform and enlighten you on all things digital:

Follow CEOs and key influencers on social media, as well as prominent industry blogs. In a digital arena, all of them have the opportunity to present their own unique voice and insights to inform your goals and work.

Quick Sprout is all about growth and conversion. It’s headed up by Neil Patel who tells around 200,000 monthly followers “I’m learning a lot and so will you.”

Unbounce has an energetic CEO and blog content that can help you build an indestructible digital marketing campaign.

Convince & Convert talks a lot about an important element of content marketing: building trust. Blog posts and podcasts address issues of influence and authority.

Moz is the leader in all things Search. Their SEO tools and community support can help to increase your online visibility.

Top Tip: If you already know which area of digital marketing you want to work in, find online resources that help you develop in that specific field.

2. Review your own work regularly

Suggesting you look critically at your own work isn't code for 'tear it to pieces' or 'beat yourself up over every error'. It simply means you should try to look at your own work objectively as often as you can. Then, work out where there's room for improvement.

Here's how you do it whilst keeping your self-respect intact:

Be constructive. ‘I’m never going to get this’ is a far cry from ‘I have some way to go before I can feel competent.’ Try not to use absolute words like “never” or “can’t” that simply block your pathway to making progress.

Find balance. Make a note of both the positive and negative elements of your work. There will always be both.

Consider alternatives. If you’re not happy with the outcome of a piece of work, think about how you might have done it differently and bank this idea for next time.

Set yourself goals. When you identify an area you want to work on, find ways to make small, but continuous improvements. This could be reading a blog post on the subject once a week or setting yourself a monthly challenge to see how you fair.

Note your achievements. You’ll never know how far you’ve come unless you track your progress. If a change in approach transforms a failure into a success or a new piece of knowledge makes a positive difference, acknowledge it. You did that.

3. Accept you're only human

Everybody has a bad day at the office. In a fast-paced digital world it can be hard to keep up with wider trends and developments, especially when you’re working flat-out on a campaign that launches tomorrow. Personal issues can affect our work. Careers work through natural highs and lows, even for Rand Fishkin who stepped down as CEO of Moz in 2013. He told Entrepreneur he “made a series of 'dumb moves' at Moz that involved everything from a failed hiring incentive to a bungled software release.”

Fishkin was to overcome a severe bout of depression before he returned with a flamboyant title: “Wizard of Moz,” but it’s a brave and mighty admission from a tech giant that can’t be ignored. We can all be vulnerable.

Top tip: build up resilience:

We all need fuel. Eat well, rest well, drink plenty of water. Your body and mind can’t run on empty; not for long.

We all need support. Surround yourself with the right people who are able to pick you up when a mistake leaves you feeling down.

We all need humor. Laugh often. In digital marketing you never know what ridiculous internet trend will come along next (you saw 109 Cats in Sweaters?). Enjoy the absurdity of a lively industry.

Grin and bear it

A career by definition is “an occupation undertaken for a significant period of a person's life and with opportunities for progress.” I’m sure Apple can afford to laugh now at their 1990s website, and Fishkin is happy to see the back of darker days. Everything, in time, moves on.

It’s not about never making a mistake or never feeling silly. It’s about learning from your mistakes and being able to laugh in the face of failure. You’ll find plenty of opportunity to increase your skill set and experts along the way who share their experience. If you take the odd step backwards, it all works to propel the next giant leap forwards.

About Natalie Smithson

Natalie Smithson is a Freelance Writer & Creative at Bobbin About. She helps people find the right words to best represent their brand and keeps a close eye on the family market. Spinning ideas for communication, Natalie is the bobbin. Connect with her on Twitter @bobbinwriter.

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